Moorestown Teen Wins $1 Million with Help from 'Lottery Angel'
Two weeks after his avid lottery-playing grandmother died, a 19-year-old Moorestown High School grad won $1 million on a scratch-off ticket.
SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY -- I tend not to put much stock in things like fate or superstition. But the story of Moorestown, NJ's 19-year-old $1 million lottery winner may have just made a believer out of me.
Though he and his family have chosen to remain anonymous, the young man’s mother shared her incredibly lucky son’s story with Patch.
The winner, R.F., a 2011 Moorestown High School graduate, used to play scratch-offs with his grandmother growing up. She’d go to the store, pick up a few and have her grandson scratch them off. If she won even a couple dollars, she’d walk back to the store, buy more and repeat. But she never won anything more than a few dollars, said R.F.’s mother, A.F.
R.F.’s grandmother passed away on Sept. 12. A.F. described her son’s relationship with his grandmother as “very, extremely close.” A week later, he came to his mother and asked, “‘I think I’m going to start playing scratch-offs again. Do you think mom-mom will make me win?’” A.F. recalled. “I said, ‘I highly doubt mom-mom has any connection with you winning or not winning the lottery.’”
About a week after that, he walked into the 7-Eleven on Chester Avenue late one night with some friends to grab a few soft drinks and, on a whim, bought a $10 “$100,000,000 Spectacular” scratch-off ticket. A.F. said he’d never bought a $10 ticket before, just the $1 scratch-offs “here and there.”
The first ticket was a dud, so R.F. slapped 10 more bucks down on the counter and scratched off another. No dice.
At that point, he wavered, debating whether to drop another $10 or cut his losses. He finally decided “‘Oh, what the hell,’” A.F. said, bought one last ticket and went out to the car.
“He was only hoping to win back his $30,” A.F. said.
A few seconds later, A.F. became the richest 19-year-old in Moorestown.
Amidst the jubilation that ensued, the jumping up and down inside the store and in the parking lot, R.F. looked skyward and said, “‘Thank you, mom-mom,’” A.F. said.
‘He’s going to live his life like he never won it’
Judith Drucker calls them “lottery angels”: deceased lottery fanatics who bestow good luck upon their remaining family.
“I guess I’m more a romantic,” said Drucker, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Lottery, who claimed in the last year she’s been there she’s met “quite a few” winners with lottery angels on their shoulders.
If that’s the case, R.F.’s grandmother exercised quite a bit of angelic magic that night. According to the lottery website, there are only 16 $1 million winners out of 13.5 million “$100,000,000 Spectacular” scratch-off tickets. That’s 1 in … well, you do the math.
It’s been a few weeks since R.F. celebrated in the 7-Eleven parking lot, but his mother said the whole experience is still very surreal for him.
“Even for us too; you just can’t believe it,” she said.
R.F. selected the lump sum option, so he won’t get the full $1 million. Needless to say, it’s still a “nice chunk,” as his mother put it.
So a 19-year-old kid with several hundred thousand dollars burning a hole in his pocket. You’d figure: new car. Right? An exotic beach vacation with some friends? A shopping spree? At the very least, an iPhone 5?
A.F. said R.F. bought his brother a new TV, he’s planning a trip to California with a couple cousins, some upgrades to his car and then socking away the rest in an investment portfolio.
“He’s going to continue to live his life like he never won it,” she said. “We tried to explain to him if he put this money away and didn’t touch it, he’d be able to retire when he’s 50 … If that was me, at 19, and I had won the lottery, I just would’ve went on a major shopping spree.”
Drucker, who met R.F. when he went in to claim his prize, said she too was impressed by his disposition.
“He was so poised and centered and diligent about what he was going to do with it,” she said.
Apparently R.F.’s story has inspired others to try their luck, according to his mother, who said every person she’s spoken to since has played the $10 scratch-offs. But as for her son, he probably used up all his lotto luck—at least for a while—that night.
“Right now, it’s one and done, because he realizes the odds are probably greater of him getting hit by lightning at this point,” she said. “My belief is that my mother had such a hand in this, because the odds are so great … I just believe that. Not that I’ve gone out and bought any.”